Morning Five: 11.20.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 20th, 2015


  1. Much of the debate around college athletics on the macro level recently has focused in on how to allow student-athletes to share in the profits that they help generate. As we have mentioned in this space on several occasions the discussions are rather myopic as they ignore the potential implications of what a true free market would do to most of the athletes on scholarships in both revenue and non-revenue sports. Many others have also noted that most athletic programs do not generate a profit, but we didn’t realize how big that probably was until we read a report by The Chronicle that estimated that nearly $10.3 billion have been provided to athletic departments over the past five years via student fees and other subsidies. It is a long article, but it is an extremely interesting read if you want to consider the other side of the equation. There are obviously externalities involve that limit the ability to take away too much from this analysis, but hopefully it will make some of you reconsider the role that college athletics play within the college experience.
  2. It has been quite a week so far for John Calipari. Not only did Kentucky beat Duke rather easily on Tuesday night, but he also picked up a commitment from Malik Monk, the #5 ranked recruit in the country. Monk, an Arkansas native, ended up picking Kentucky over Arkansas leading to the inevitable backlash by Razorback fans as well as former Razorback star Bobby Portis. Monk’s commitment moves Kentucky’s class to the top of the recruiting rankings for the time being, but as we said when Edrie Adebayo committed there are still a lot of uncommitted players remaining on the board.
  3. Miami might not be the dominant force it once was in football, but their basketball team is increasingly becoming a more significant player in the ACC and national landscape. Outside of being much more competitive in the ACC than many expected them to be, the Hurricanes are also starting to make waves on the recruiting trail with Wednesday probably being the biggest day in the program’s history in terms of recruiting as they added two top-30 commitments in Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown. Huell, a 6’9″ power forward who goes to school near Coral Gables, picked Miami over South Carolina while Brown, a shooting guard from Massachusetts, picked Miami over Indiana. While the decision of a player to stay at home over going to South Carolina is not that big of a surprise, an out-of-state player choosing to go to Miami over Indiana certainly is.
  4. With college football season winding down and college basketball season picking up steam the dynamics within athletic departments can be interesting as the two sides compete for attention in resources. Few schools have the success in both sports that Michigan State enjoys, which makes the relationship between Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo even more interesting. We aren’t privy to the relationship between most basketball and football coaches at major colleges, but most of the stories we have heard are about jealousy and how the coaches fight for resources so it seems like this relationship is somewhat unique although that may be affected by the fact that both of them are successful to a level that few in their respective sports are.
  5. New Mexico forward Devon Williams has decided to stop playing basketball after a medical exam demonstrated that he had cervical spinal stenosis. Williams who underwent the exam on Wednesday after a fall on Sunday led him to lose feeling in his extremities for ten minutes. The on-court loss of Williams, who started 30 games last season, is a significant blow to the Lobos, but he will stay involved with the team acting as another coach.
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ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments, Part I Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 19th, 2015


Note: To gauge relative team strength, we use current KenPom ratings.

  1. Puerto Rico Tip-Off: Miami (#23) tips off the ACC’s early season tournament action later today, taking on Ben Howland’s rebuilding Mississippi State (#133) squad in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (ESPN2 – 5:00). With an otherwise less than challenging non-conference schedule, Jim Larranaga’s team could pick up some quality wins here, with potential meetings against Utah (#20) in the second round and Butler (#31) in Sunday’s finals (ESPN2 – 7:30). This trip was arranged in no small part to give senior guard Angel Rodriquez a homecoming. A native of Cupey, Puerto Rico, the senior will be highly motivated to lead the Hurricanes to the tournament title on his home island.
  2. Charleston Classic: Tony Bennett will try to get Virginia (#4) back on track after Monday’s upset loss at George Washington. The 73 points that the Cavaliers gave up were the most they have allowed in regulation since an 87-52 blowout loss to Tennessee in December 2013. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of problems ahead for Bennett’s vaunted defense, which was whistled for 24 fouls against the Colonials. The competition at the Charleston Classic this weekend is not of the highest caliber, however, as the Cavs open with Bradley (#272) tonight (ESPN2 – 9:30) and could face a couple of the three non-top 50 major conference schools also in the event — Oklahoma State (#56), Mississippi (#64) and Seton Hall (#73). This tournament’s championship game will be played on Sunday night (ESPN2 – 9:30).
  3. Paradise Jam: If the first two games of the year for Florida State (#35) are any indication, Leonard Hamilton will have his highest scoring team in years. The Seminoles are averaging 103.5 points per game after registering two beatdowns over weak competition and freshman Dwayne Bacon has been a star, scoring 23 and 27 points in back-to-back games. Florida State is the co-favorite in the Paradise Jam along with a Tulsa (#41) squad which upset Wichita State earlier this week. If the two favorites meet in the finals, it will be on Monday night (Nov. 23 – CBSSN – 10:00). The Seminoles will face Hofstra (#95) in Friday’s opening day of play (CBSSN – 4:30) and could meet up with an interesting South Carolina (#47) team in the next round.
  4. 2K Sports Classic: Another team looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss earlier this week is Duke, which travels to Madison Square Garden for the 2K Sports Classic this weekend. Mike Krzyzewski’s perimeter corps had a difficult time finding good looks against the quicker Kentucky backcourt in Tuesday’s loss at the Champions Classic, and the Blue Devils’ transition defense was carved up to the tune of 14-point deficit in fast break points. Individually, sophomore Grayson Allen will look to bounce back after a miserable 2-of-11 shooting performance and just six points against Kentucky. The opponents in New York will not be of Kentucky’s ilk, but they will still be a challenge for this young Duke squad. Friday’s (ESPN2 – 7:30) opponent will be VCU (#51) and Sunday will bring either Georgetown (#44) or last year’s NCAA title game opponent, Wisconsin (#24).
  5. Brooklyn Hoops Holiday InvitationalLouisville (#22) has already begun play in this event, which is not a traditional tournament in any form. Every game has predetermined matchups and Louisville gets to host the first three games, including Tuesday’s 87-52 win over Hartford (#312). Also visiting the KFC Yum! Center as an exempted game will be North Florida (#100) on Saturday (November 21) and St. Francis (NY) (#239) next Tuesday (November 24). In the Cardinals’ only game of the event away from home, they will meet St. Louis (#152) in Brooklyn on Saturday, November 28. Collectively, these games will not be much of a boost to an already weak non-conference schedule that Rick Pitino has lined up for his inexperienced squad this season.
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Big 12 M5: 11.18.15 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 18th, 2015


  1. The Champions Classic hasn’t been very kind to Kansas over the years, and while last night’s loss to Michigan State was very different than the blowout suffered at the hands of Kentucky last year, it was a frustrating night just the same. While coughing up a double-figure lead is never a good look, especially when a team bricks as many close shots as Kansas did, there are two sides of the coin to analyze here. Michigan State went 5-of-7 from deep over the last eight minutes of the game and 6-of-6 from the line to close it out. Before long, we’ll delve into things like Bill Self‘s suspect in-game adjustments and Wayne Selden‘s continuing struggle to sway his doubters, but it’s okay to give Michigan State a little credit. I promise.
  2. After getting taken to the brink by Colorado during the season opener but still coming away with a win, Iowa State had an easier time with its second opponent on Monday, handling Chicago State by a score of 106-64. Jameel McKay led the way for the Cyclones with a career-high 25 points, but despite his big night, head coach Steve Prohm decided to burn the redshirt of 6’9″ freshman Brady Ernst in order to provide his big man with some help. While Abdel Nader‘s performance in the early going (15.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG) suggests that he could be an answer inside, that notion becomes much more questionable once you look at the better teams the Cyclones are going to face when conference play rolls around. The reality is that if Iowa State is going to capitalize on the potential of the most talented roster they’ll have for the next few years, they’ll need better interior defense. Even though it’s tough to gauge how big an impact Ernst will have as a freshman who’s also coming off an ACL tear, prioritizing the short-term potential of the team over the long-term potential of Ernst individually seems like the right move for Prohm to make.
  3. Buddy Hield‘s NPOY campaign is off to a roaring start, as the Sooners’ senior went for 30 points (including some key free throws) in Oklahoma’s impressive season-opening win at Memphis. Hield showed an impressive all-around game by also chipping in eight rebounds, three assists and three steals to go along with his big scoring evening. Another positive development for Lon Kruger‘s team was the contribution from freshman Dante Buford. With Khadeem Latti struggling, Buford came off the bench to haul in eight rebounds and swat a pair of shots, showing the kind of activity around the rim that could make him a solution to Oklahoma’s questions inside.
  4. Baylor point guard Lester Medford had a rough go of it in the Bears’ loss to Oregon, doing very little to inspire confidence that he can fill Kenny Chery’s shoes as a competent floor general. Medford committed six turnovers and shot a rusty 1-of-6 from the floor while the Ducks’ hot shooting was too much for Baylor to overcome. In fairness, playing a good team late at night over 2,000 miles away from your home campus is a tall order for anyone, but this situation will be one to monitor during the first month of the season.
  5. The jury will be out on Kansas State for a while this season, but things are going about as well as can be expected for now. Just three days after dominating Maryland-Eastern Shore, Bruce Weber‘s team beat Ivy League contender Columbia at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats led comfortably for most of the second half and buried 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to close out the game. Kansas State’s first big test will come next Tuesday when the Wildcats will play either Northwestern or North Carolina on the second night of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.
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Big Ten M5: 11.18.15 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 18th, 2015


  1. Last night we were treated to an excellent slate of non-conference matchups involving three Big Ten teams. First, Nebraska traveled to Philadelphia and played Villanova tough for the first 10 minutes of the game before ultimately getting blown out. Next, Maryland rekindled an old city rivalry when it hosted Georgetown. The Terps edged the Hoyas behind Melo Trimble’s 24-point effort and transfer Rasheed Sulaimon’s late three to seal the game. Finally, Michigan State came back to win against Kansas after being behind the Jayhawks for almost the entirety. Denzel Valentine was phenomenal, becoming one of just a handful of players to record a triple-double in a Spartans uniform. It was an excellent all-around night of basketball for Big Ten fans.
  2. For Bo Ryan, the challenge of rebuilding at Wisconsin since the departure of five instrumental players from his back-to-back Final Four teams is becoming real. First, there was a humbling loss to Western Illinois — a team that is projected to finish dead last in the Summit League — at the Kohl Center. Then, on Tuesday night, the Badgers learned that Andy Van Vliet — a 6’10” forward from Belgium — has been ruled ineligible for the entire season. This leaves Ryan short another player at a time when he’s still trying to figure out his rotation and the ultimate identity of his team.
  3. On Monday, Indiana finished its two-game set of Maui Invitational opening round games when it walloped Austin Peay, 102-76. As expected, the Hoosiers’ offense has been humming along early, as evidenced by their 69.8 percent effective field goal percentage on the season. More promising, however, is that Indiana’s defense looks markedly improved as Tom Crean’s group has kept its opponents at under one point per possession so far this season. The true test for his team will be next week’s venture to the Maui Invitational where, along with Kansas, Indiana is the favorite to leave the island with some hardware.
  4. In their first two games of the season, Purdue has showcased why it was selected as a preseason Top 25 team and considered a legitimate contender for a Big Ten title. Winning those contests by a combined 69 points, what’s even more impressive is that they’ve done so without the services of their best player, A.J. Hammons, who has been watching from the bench. Matt Painter has been ambiguous about the specific reason for his senior center’s absence, instead stating that “he’s got to take care of some business internally” before he can again see the court. Whenever he does return to the lineup, though, his presence will certainly add to a squad already performing at a high level — no doubt sending chills throughout the rest of the Big Ten.
  5. One of the reasons the Boilermakers have been able to make do without Hammons in the lineup is because of the exceptional play of star freshman Caleb Swanigan. In his first two games as a collegian, the big-bodied forward averaged 12.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while also shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line. For those efforts, Swanigan was awarded the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award on Monday. Look for the precocious Boilermaker to keep up this pace even when Hammons returns as he has already shown a developed ability to play away from the basket.
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Morning Five: 11.18.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 18th, 2015


  1. As you may have noticed that was a lot of college basketball played over the past few days. The marquee event was Kentucky‘s win over Duke at the Champions Classic, but for our money the most exciting game/environment was Maryland‘s win over Georgetown due to the combination of the college environment and the fact that it was a more competitive game. As we mentioned last night on Twitter, we would love for the Champions Classic to rotate between the home arenas of the four teams involved, but unfortunately we doubt that will ever happen because of both the desire to keep the series in big markets and the reluctance of some coaches to play tough non-conference road games.
  2. Kentucky didn’t just win on the court yesterday as the picked up another top recruit when Edrice Adebayo, the #6 recruit in the ESPN Top 100, committed to play at Kentucky next season. Adebayo, a 6’8″ 235-pound power forward, picked the Wildcats over North Carolina State and Auburn citing a desire to play for John Calipari given his relationship with Calipari and Calipari’s success in helping players reach the NBA. Adebayo’s commitment gives the Wildcats the #2 recruiting class behind Duke although there is still plenty of time and recruits who are still uncommitted.
  3. The new rule changes implemented since the end of last season were the source of considerable debate, but they seem to have led to increased scoring at least through the first weekend. As Ken Pomeroy notes, the rule changes appear to have had the intended effect thus far. Not only is scoring up, but so is shooting both in terms of field goal/three-point percentage and three-point shot frequency. We are not sure if this will continue and there are definitely other ways that they could make increase scoring, but this appears to be a good start.
  4. Northwestern State will be without star senior guard Jalan West for the rest of the season after he tore the ACL in his left knee late in their loss on Friday at Ole Miss. West, who averaged 20 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game last season, had scored 24 points in the second half before suffering the injury. Northwestern State probably wasn’t going to be better than Stephen F. Austin even with West, but his presence would have given them the possibility of getting hot in a one-game scenario and knocking off the Lumberjacks.
  5. We have used this space to discuss NCAA eligibility issues a lot in the past as well as the various legal issues players find themselves involved in, but we don’t often talk about forgery and pretrial diversion programs. Thanks to Arkansas guard Anton Beard we can check off those two boxes after the sophomore, who was an All-SEC freshman selection last season, struck a deal to avoid jail time (for now) after being caught trying to use and exchange counterfeit $20 and $50 bills. The technical issues involved with his arrangement are a little too detailed for this space, but essentially if he doesn’t mess up he will be eligible to play starting December 18.
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Rushed Reactions: #13 Michigan State 79, #4 Kansas 73

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 18th, 2015

RTC National Columnist Bennet Hayes was in Chicago for the Champion’s Classic.

Three Key Takeaways: 

Denzel Valentine Stole The Champion's Classic Show Tuesday Night (Photo: Spartan Avenue)

Denzel Valentine Stole The Champion’s Classic Show Tuesday Night (Photo: Spartan Avenue)

  1. Denzel Valentine Is Really Good. The Spartan senior delivered the individual performance of this young college basketball season, producing a 29 point, 12 rebound, 12 assist triple-double. Valentine had the ball in his hands in the crucial moments of almost every Spartan possession, particularly in the second half. His final shooting numbers don’t dazzle (10-23 from the field), but you can’t underemphasize Michigan State’s reliance on their do-it-all senior leader. Tom Izzo completely abandoned his offense down the stretch to give Valentine the ball and run him off of ball screen after ball screen, a strategy that paid massive dividends on this night. Demanding this much out of Valentine may prove sketchy as a long-term offensive solution, but for now, Michigan State is 2-0 and has Valentine to thank for it.
  2. Kansas’ Champion’s Classic Struggles Continue. If Bill Self wants to look on the bright side, the Jayhawks are probably leaving Chicago feeling better about themselves than they were this time last year. And really, a neutral site loss to a team likely to be very relevant come March will hardly cripple the Jayhawks’ season. Still though, Tuesday night’s result has to be extremely disappointing. Kansas had this game under control for the better part of 35 minutes and lost largely out of an inability to control one player on the other side. Redemption for Champion’s Classic failures of years past was well within reach. Once again, KU fell short.
  3. Michigan State Controls Backboards. With Spartan forward/center Gavin Schilling out again Tuesday night with turf toe, Kansas’ talented corps of big men had to enter the United Center with designs on dominating the glass. If they did have that plan, it didn’t come to fruition. Tom Izzo called his team’s first half performance “very soft”, but Michigan State had collected 10 more rebounds than the Jayhawks by the time the final buzzer sounded. Kansas must be tougher – and has the personnel to do so – moving forward. On the Michigan State side, continued success on the backboards, perhaps paired with a heavy dose of Valentine, could be a nice recipe for success moving forward.

Star of the Game: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. No surprise here, as Valentine delivered a personal masterpiece that may not be topped anytime soon in 2015-16. One statistic that may be lost in the recounting of his heroics: Valentine finished with just one turnover. It may be the most telling statistic of any, as Valentine seemed to control nearly every second of the last ten minutes.


  • “I didn’t think he was going to hit them. He showed some nuts on that one.” –Valentine on freshman forward Deyonta Davis knocking down two key free throws with 23 seconds to play
  • “I felt stupid at halftime for telling everyone this was one of the better shooting teams I’ve had, shooting 33 percent. Of course that may be true, we’ve shot 28 percent some years.” –Izzo on his teams’ opening half offense
  • “He is like Draymond. There’s a million things he’s not good enough at, but winning he is good enough at.” –Izzo, comparing Valentine to former Spartan star Draymond Green
  • “We did some good things to get control of the game the first 33 minutes or so, then they made a ton of plays late.” –Bill Self
  • “I always thought he was a good player. Tonight I think he proved to everyone that he is an exceptional player.” –Self on Valentine 

Sights and Sounds: Things quieted down a bit for the second game of the Champion’s Classic, but the United Center stayed noisy throughout. Kansas fans impressively invaded Big Ten country, with Jayhawk supporters outnumbering their Spartan counterparts. Still, Valentine’s second half heroics kept a healthy back-and-forth going between fan bases. November did a very good March impersonation in Chicago tonight.

What’s Next: The Jayhawks get six days off before their next contest, a first round game in the Maui Invitational against host Chaminade. The Silverswords should offer KU little resistance, but tricky matchups could arrive on the following two days. Either UCLA or UNLV will be the Jayhawks’ opponent in game two, while possible finals opponents include Vanderbilt and Indiana. Michigan State will also be making a journey west for an in-season tournament, but not before a quick stop in East Lansing for home dates against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Eastern Michigan. The Spartans open the Wooden Classic with Boston College on Thanksgiving; probable opponents in later rounds of the event include Boise State and either Arizona or Providence (on Friday and Sunday, respectively).

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Kentucky 74, #5 Duke 63

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 17th, 2015

RTC National Columnist Bennet Hayes was in Chicago for the Champion’s Classic.

Three Key Takeaways:

Tyler Ulis And Jamal Murray Had It Going Tuesday Night Against Duke (Photo: Staff Herald-Leader)

Tyler Ulis And Jamal Murray Had It Going Tuesday Night Against Duke (Photo: Staff Herald-Leader)

  1. Kentucky Veterans Step Up. Nowadays, in a Kentucky-Duke matchup that takes place in November, you’re a veteran if you’ve played more than a handful of college games. Kentucky freshmen (most notably Skal Labissiere) have dominated early headlines in Lexington, but a trio of UK returnees delivered invaluable contributions tonight. Tyler Ulis’ floor game was solid as ever, and the sophomore captain pitched in 18 points and 6 assists, all without a turnover. Up front, it was Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress that keyed Wildcat surges in the late first half and early second with energy in transition and on the backboards; the duo finished with a combined 19 points and 17 rebounds. College basketball will be as dominated by freshmen as ever this season, but this trio of Wildcats displayed the value of having veterans capable of major contributions.
  2. Grayson Allen struggles. Allen has had the college hoops world buzzing for quite awhile. His 16 point effort in Duke’s title game victory started the noise, and a combined 54 points in Duke’s pair of opening weekend victories only raised the volume. Things might quiet down a little bit now, however, after Allen finished two for 11 from the field in scoring just six points against the Wildcats. He missed all nine of his first half field goal attempts, failed to score a point in the first 28 minutes of game action, and looked generally defeated for most of the second half. The fearless attacks of the rim that proved successful against Siena and Bryant over the weekend were easily neutralized by the Kentucky front line, and Allen took far too long to adjust to the elevation in competition. The sophomore may be best suited playing off the ball, which makes Derryck Thornton (who showed flashes of ability tonight) only that much more important.
  3. Tempo And Turnovers. Kentucky showed a willingness to play fast and frequently capitalized in transition on Duke’s 16 turnovers, scoring 17 points off them. Kentucky didn’t play at any sort of breakneck pace last season (251st nationally in possessions per game), but a trio of savvy ballhandlers – Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe – could make this year’s Wildcats more dangerous in transition. They showed glimpses of it tonight.

Star of the Game: Tyler Ulis, Kentucky. It was the smallest man on a court filled with with tall, long athletes who proved most important. Ulis orchestrated the Kentucky offense beautifully all evening, pushing tempo when Wildcat numbers were favorable and managing the halfcourt offense when circumstances demanded a dose of patience. Kentucky turned the ball over just nine times all night (none of which were attributed to Ulis himself), and the Cats were generally in control of this game from the start, in no small part due to Ulis. He finished with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds, but the pretty stat line is almost superfluous – Ulis dictated the outcome of this game in every little way a point guard should.


  • “We’re gonna be trouble in a fast-paced game like that…we’re very unselfish with each other…we play well off each other.” -Ulis
  • “He’s kind of like a baseball player that watches the ball and he can see the seams. The game happens slower for him.” –John Calipari on his point guard, Tyler Ulis
  • “I don’t want him to be a bully. I want him to be an elite athlete. See a bully’s easier you can just stay on the floor and push around and be a lug…You know he hit his tooth, like, on the rim? You hit your tooth on the rim? So why don’t you do that all the time?” –Calipari on his expectations for Alex Poythress
  • “God was good to him. The gene pool was good. They didn’t give him height, but they gave him a heart that is probably five times bigger than most people…he’s just a heck of a player.” –Mike Kryzewski, on why Ulis is so effective
  • “I admired his face and his presence throughout the game. It was the face of a winner and a leader.” –Coach K, again talking about Ulis
  • “We weren’t who we should be tonight. From the start.” –Coach K

Sights and Sounds: Blue. Lots of it. If not for Michigan State, the Champion’s Classic would be an annual blue-out, and both Kentucky and Duke brought their share of the event’s official color to the United Center Tuesday night. There was little doubt which team had more of it, however, as Big Blue Nation lived up to its reputation as the best traveling fans in the sport. The Wildcat faithful also had more to cheer about, of course, but it’s a testament to the power of these two programs that this opener significantly outdrew the second game of the night, despite Michigan State and Kansas’ relative proximity to the Windy City.

What’s Next: Things get easier for Kentucky, as three of their next four are at home against mid-major foes. The fourth is a neutral site matchup with South Florida and former Calipari assistant Orlando Antigua, but the Bulls already own home losses to Troy and NJIT. No such lull awaits the Blue Devils, as Duke heads to New York City to face VCU Friday and either Wisconsin (in a national title game rematch) or Georgetown on Sunday. Potentially pesky home dates against Yale, Utah State and Indiana await the Blue Devils upon their return from the Big Apple.

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A Column of Enchantment: Not Even Barely About Basketball

Posted by Joseph Nardone on November 17th, 2015

I’ve mentioned this many times before to the point of nausea, but I am about to do so again. The St. John’s Red Storm are my favorite team. Not only in college basketball. In all of sports. There’s a few reasons why — mostly Bootsy to blame — yet it is the reality of my life. So few people roaming this planet were as excited as I was when their season was about to open on Friday night against Wagner.

Sometimes, sports just takes a backseat to news around the world. Friday was one of that instances. (AP)

Sometimes sports just takes a backseat to news around the world. Friday was one of those instances. (AP)

Before the game, however, some really horrific news broke. Everyone knows the story by now. At the time, though, the events unfolding in France were simply mind-boggling. Like many other people, I struggled with trying to separate my emotions from attempting to enjoy the basketball games. Some people, ones smarter than I at least, decided to not venture on Twitter or discuss the matter at all. It was their right. So, too, were those who tried to find comfort in the sports being played. To each their own, really. There’s definitely no right or wrong way to handle tragedy.

Judging others who decided to continue to watch basketball and — how dare they — comment on it, are infuriating. Parts of me get it. We’re all a little bit selfish. We need to make things about us. When something as tragic as the terror that was taking place in France is happening far from home, people have to localize their outrage. Still, the anger was misplaced, misguided and mostly founded out of ignorance. Some people HAD to tweet about the basketball games because it was their jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 11.16.15 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 16th, 2015


  1. Kansas had no problem whatsoever handling Northern Colorado to open the season on Friday night, blowing out the Bears 109-72. The Jayhawks’ scoring output was their highest since the famous Elijah Johnson game at Iowa State in 2013 (although that game needed overtime). Everyone played a role in Friday night’s win, but the most impressive performance came from wing Brannen Greene, who went a perfect 5-of-5 off the bench from deep. Like most players whose value is tied up in his ability to make three-pointers, Greene is streaky, so whether he carries his hot start into tomorrow night’s Champions Classic meeting against Michigan State will be something to monitor.
  2. Another big story on Opening Night was the inaugural game of the Shaka Smart era at Texas, but it wasn’t quite the start fans had in mind as the Longhorns fell to Washington in a sloppy, foul-plagued rockfight in Shanghai. The game’s 83 possessions were the most for Texas in a regulation game since a close loss to an uptempo BYU team in in 2013. Havoc is of course Smart’s favored style of play and brand — and there’s no reason to doubt that it will take off once he has his own players in the fold — but in the meantime, it’s also fair to question whether pushing the pace is the best idea for a Longhorns group prone to suspect shot selection.
  3. When it comes to the teams who have the best shot of snapping the Jayhawks’ long streak of 11 straight conference titles, an overwhelming majority of the talk has centered on Oklahoma and Iowa State. However, Baylor could be right there with those two schools if its 97-55 dismantling of a decent Stephen F. Austin team is a sign of its long-term potential. We wouldn’t expect the Bears to consistently post eFG% rates in the high 70s as they did in Friday night’s victory, but the big win should serve as a new reminder to not sleep on Scott Drew’s squad this season.
  4. Speaking of Big 12 contenders, Oklahoma was idle over the weekend, but the Sooners will face a tough opener on the road Tuesday night as they travel to face Memphis. The Tigers under Josh Pastner have been competitive over the last few years but their fan base has grown impatient with the team’s inconsistency and lack of postseason success. Still, Memphis features a deep rotation inside that could make scoring difficult for Buddy HieldRyan Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and JeMuni McNeace.
  5. Lastly, the handful of Big 12 coaches facing the most pressure this season enjoyed worry-free debuts. To start off, Bruce Weber‘s new-look Kansas State squad beat a terrible Maryland-Eastern Shore team. Wesley Iwundu probably isn’t cut out to play a starring role on a good Big 12 team, but he looked the part on Friday, scoring an efficient 23 points on just 13 shots. Freshman Barry Brown was very good as well, posting 17 points in his collegiate debut. Meanwhile in Stillwater, Oklahoma State cruised to a 91-57 win over Tennessee-Martin. The Cowboys were on fire the whole game in a way we haven’t seen in a while, as their scoring efficiency of 1.34 PPP was better than any single performance from last season. Phil Forte scored 24 points on nine shots to lead the way. The Pokes have a few more cupcakes before the schedule starts to heat up, so we’ll see if they can continue to be effective.
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Morning Five: 11.16.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 16th, 2015


  1. Everybody likes to hype the start of the college basketball season, but the reality is that most of the opening weekend games are boring match-ups (at least on paper). As some prominent programs found out this weekend, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will coast to easy wins even in guarantee games. Andrew Gripshover has a solid recap of a strange opening night. The most notable upsets (to our knowledge all “guarantee games”) were William & Mary winning at North Carolina State, Western Illinois winning at Wisconsin, Monmouth winning at UCLA, Sacramento State winning at Arizona State, North Florida winning at Illinois, and Chattanooga at Georgia. [Ed. Note: Radford also beat Georgetown at home, which was not technically a guarantee game, but was still embarrassing for the Hoyas.] We wouldn’t read too much into any of these games for three reasons: its still early in the season, these are 18- to 22-year-olds, and we didn’t think any of those teams would be that good anyways.
  2. Rhode Island‘s hopes of contending for an Atlantic-10 title this season took a massive blow when E.C. Matthews suffered a season-ending right knee injury during Friday’s win over American. Matthews, who was considered a legit Atlantic-10 Player of the Year candidate and a possible late 2nd round NBA Draft pick, averaged 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. The extent of the injury is not known yet (or at least has not been publicly revealed), but we would expect them to release that information sometime this week.
  3. Matthews was not the only significant player to suffer an injury on Friday as NC State’s Terry Henderson tore ligaments in his right ankle and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Henderson, who sat out last season after transferring from West Virginia, averaged 11.7 points per game as a sophomore and was expected to help replace Trevor Lacey. Now without Henderson, the Wolfpack will probably have to rely on freshman Maverick Rowan until Henderson returns to the lineup. Fortunately for NC State, Henderson’s expected return should be around the start of ACC play and their non-conference schedule isn’t exactly challenging to put it lightly.
  4. Over the past few years there has been growing debate around the idea of playing games on aircraft carriers, but it turns out playing games on land can have its own dangers as Gonzaga and Pittsburgh found out during their game in Okinawa, Japan. The game, which is part of the annual Armed Forces Classic, had to be called off with Pittsburgh leading Gonzaga 37-35 at half after several players had fallen on a slippery floor including Pittsburgh’s James Robinson who had to leave the game after a fall that left blood streaming down the right side of his face. While it was disappointing for all involved especially since this was intended to a treat for the members of our military it was clearly the right call. Unlike the aircraft carriers, which are inherently exposed to the elements, this is a somewhat unexpected situation even in a humid location. We aren’t sure what the solution is to this problem outside of trying to get these games in traditional arenas, which would decrease the aesthetic appeal of the games.
  5. One of the problems with prepping a column to be posted in the morning is that sometimes the news changes almost as soon as you get the post up. That was the case with Friday’s Morning Five, which discussed the case of Central Florida freshman Tacko Fall. Perhaps it was just coincidence (or maybe Mark Emmert read our post), but the NCAA reversed course and ruled that Fall was eligible to play immediately. Fall’s case drew attention for several reasons including his height (7’6″), background (moved to the US as a junior after growing up in Senegal), and apparent high academic achievement. Fall had 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 14 minutes yesterday against Davidson. We aren’t sure what kind of impact Fall will have this year, but it is nice to see the NCAA make the right decision even if it took a long time to get to that decision.
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2015-16 RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 13th, 2015

And so it begins — that wonderful time of year when we hear familiar voices on the television and our favorite teams playing college basketball games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With a sizable slate of games commencing this evening, we officially unveil the RTC 2015-16 Preseason Top 25. This poll will hold for about the next 10 days, but you can expect our weekly poll to come out every Monday morning starting on November 23 through the rest of the season. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick and dirty analysis that dives a bit more deeply into how the teams shake out from top to bottom. To see how we did last year, check out our 2014-15 preseason poll — sure, we nailed some (Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona), and missed on some others (Florida, Michigan, Texas, Syracuse). We promise to do better this time around. Here’s the preseason poll.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 7.33.52 PM

Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

  • There is significant uncertainty at the top of the poll – Last season’s preseason poll also had Kentucky in the #1 spot, but those Wildcats garnered six of seven first-place votes. This time around, three other teams — #2 Kansas, #4 North Carolina, and #5 Virginia — each grabbed first-place votes. It is very difficult to argue with any of these selections at this point and that should ultimately make for a very exciting season. It should be noted that North Carolina was ranked first by the Associated Press, but that poll was released before Tar Heels’ senior point guard Marcus Paige suffered a broken hand that should sideline him for three to four weeks. Will the Tar Heels be able to remain within striking distance in Paige’s absence? And if so, will they be as good as advertised when he returns?

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Morning Five: 2015 Tip-Off Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 13th, 2015


  1. With the start of the college basketball season upon us, we figured it would be a good time to bring back the Morning Five. We apologize for the infrequent nature of these posts the past few months, but we had to deal with a variety of things the past few months (all good). Now that the season is starting we are planning on doing these posts at least a few times a week. If you have not been on the site in a while we encourage you to check out the great work that our microsites have been doing. And if you are in the mood to try something different this season (and potentially win tickets to one of the NCAA Regionals this year), we encourage you to enter into our Survivor Pool. Unlike some other sites, we are not being investigated by any Attorney Generals, you don’t have to pay any money to enter, and we don’t use insider information to try to win our own event.
  2. We often talk about college sports being essentially separate entities from the educational institutions that they represent, but there are many instances in which they are intertwined. One excellent example of this is the WashingtonTexas game that is being played in Shanghai. Many will view this as a way for the basketball teams to grow their brand and possibly even that of the conferences, but the schools also view it as an opportunity to promote their schools as educational options for people overseas. Financially it makes sense for schools to go after individuals who might pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition money instead of hoping to sell a bunch of $20 t-shirts.
  3. Although the season is officially starting tonight there are a handful of notable players who are still in NCAA eligibility limbo. The most significant of these is Cheick Diallo, the highly touted Kansas freshman. We won’t claim to have any inside information/knowledge about the case, but Sam Mellinger’s column on the situation and his proposed solution is a worthwhile read while we wait for the NCAA to hand down a decision. As Mellinger notes the blame here shouldn’t fall as much on the NCAA as it should on the member institutions that allowed it to have this type of unregulated power.
  4. Diallo appears content to wait for the NCAA to make a decision, but two other players (I guess they are technically just students now) have received negative rulings from the NCAA and in a somewhat unique move appear to be ready to call the NCAA on it by threatening lawsuits. Parties representing Central Florida freshman center Tacko Fall and St. John’s freshman Marcus LoVett have both reportedly looked into filing lawsuits against the NCAA. This might sound interesting on paper, but we doubt it will end up doing either athlete much good in the near-future because of the glacial pace that the NCAA and the court systems that deal with its cases move at for these type of things.
  5. Finally, we have been off long enough that we never addressed the Louisville prostitution scandal and it looked like we might be able to avoid the topic since the administration at Louisville obviously doesn’t care about how poorly the situation reflects on the school, but we probably could have figured that out with the way they have handled numerous other things. Now it appears that the school may end up having to deal with the NCAA as Katina Powell, the individual who allegedly supplied the program with the prostitutes, will meet with the NCAA next week in reaction to the high likelihood that she will face criminal charges. Given the way the NCAA usually deals with these things we doubt that they will do anything to the program, but it will be interesting to see if Rick Pitino ever decides that it would be best to move on rather than have to deal with this scandal for the foreseeable future.
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